How does Islam teach us to deal with anger and irritability?


Anger and irritation with things that happen in life is a normal part of being human, but we have choices as to how we deal with it.  Often we hear parents, or spouses, saying “you make me so angry”! Yet this in not accurate.  We allow ourselves to become angry and frustrated.  The child(ren) or spouse may have said or done something which created feelings within us, but actually it is our choice as to whether or not we allow ourselves to become angry and frustrated.  We choose our own reaction.

If your daughter rode her bike and it scratched the car, you can shout, yell and insult her because you feel angry. She will then feel humiliated and have a horrible day and maybe be afraid to ride again, and you will then also feel ashamed of yelling at your daughter, causing a rift to grow.  

Instead you could have seen this as an accident that your daughter did and sit her down calmly explaining to her that she should walk her bike when she is next to cars so that she will not scratch them.  She walks away with new knowledge, a good relation with her parent, and you also feel a sense of accomplishment of controlling your anger.

(This is similar to the 10/90 prinicple mentioned in another post).

If we look towards the Quran and Hadith for guidance concerning anger we can find much advice.

From hadith Bukhari we can see that the source of anger is from Shaytan so we should seek refuge with Allah swt when we feel in a state of anger:

Narrated Sulaiman bin Surd: While I was sitting in the company of the Prophet, two men abused each other and the face of one of them became red with anger, and his jugular veins swelled (i.e. he became furious). On that the Prophet said, “I know a word, the saying of which will cause him to relax, if he does say it. If he says: ‘I seek Refuge with Allah from Satan.’ then all is anger will go away.” Some body said to him, “The Prophet has said, ‘Seek refuge with Allah from Satan.”‘ The angry man said, “Am I mad?”  (Book #54, Hadith #502)

And in another hadith we can see the importance of controlling our anger:

Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Apostle said, “The strong is not the one who overcomes the people by his strength, but the strong is the one who controls himself while in anger.”  (Book #73, Hadith #135)

This is indeed a difficult but do-able task and when we work on our character we are making jihad al-nafs, and this is one of our biggest duties.

From the Quran we read: chapter 42, As-shura or counsil:

36 Whatever ye are given (here) is (but) a convenience of this life: but that which is with Allah is better and more lasting: (it is) for those who believe and put their trust in their Lord:
37 Those who avoid the greater crimes and shameful deeds, and, when they are angry even then forgive;
38 Those who hearken to their Lord, and establish regular Prayer; who (conduct) their affairs by mutual Consultation; who spend out of what We bestow on them for Sustenance;
39 And those who, when an oppressive wrong is inflicted on them, (are not cowed but) help and defend themselves.
40 The recompense for an injury is an injury equal thereto (in degree): but if a person forgives and makes reconciliation, his reward is due from Allah. for ((Allah)) loveth not those who do wrong.

also:

al-isra chapter 17 verse 11:

 


And man invokes (Allah) for evil as he invokes (Allah) for good and man is ever hasty (i.e., if he is angry with somebody, he invokes (saying): “O Allah! Curse him, etc.” and that one should not do, but one should be patient).

 

In several places through out the Quran we can see where Allah urges us to practice patience and gratitude, and to be humble.  One such verse is from Surah Bakarah, 2: 45

Nay, seek Allah’s help with patient perserverance.

Patience in Arabic implies many shades of meaning, which is impossible to translate into one word in English.  It can imply 1. patience in the sense of taking your time and not rushing things, 2. patient perserverance, constancy, steadfastness, firmness of purpose or intent, 3. systematic actions, or also habits that one sets into one’s character, and 4. a cheerful attitude and acceptance during times of sorrow, defeat, or suffering compared to murmuring, complaining, or rebellion, yet saved from mere passivity or listlessness by the element of constancy or steadfastness.  This kind of patient perserverance comes with increasing ones iman, or faith in Allah, and relying upon His guidance.

1) Ye shall certainly be tried and tested in your possessions and in your personal selves; and ye shall certainly Hear much that will grieve you, from those who received the Book before you and from those who worship many gods. But if ye persevere patiently, and guard against evil,-then that will be a determining factor in all affairs.  
(
  سورة آل عمران  , Aal-e-Imran, Chapter #3, Verse #186)

 

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) advised us not to get angry, i.e., to avoid the causes that lead to that and to be careful of what may result from that.  How many times we as parents, or teachers, instruct our children to ‘walk away’ from the scene of trouble if they feel they are getting angry or a fight is going to start? Removing one self from the situation is often the best way so that anger does not continue to build up.  It does not mean running away from issues that need to be dealt with, but rather choosing the time that is right for discussing those issues.

Please read an excerpt taken from Islam Q and A:

 

 

It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) that a man said to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him): “Advise me.” He said: “Do not get angry.” He repeated his question several times and he said: “Do not get angry.” 

Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 5765. 

The Muslim should be above getting angry for his own sake or for the sake of anyone other than Allaah, because that may lead to regrettable consequences either in this world or in the Hereafter, or in both. 

Ibn Muflih al-Hanbali said: 

‘Ali ibn Abi Taalib (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: It may be known whether a person is really patient at the time of anger. And he used to say that the beginning of anger is madness and the end of it is regret, and anger cannot be justified by offering a humble apology. Calamities may come because of anger. It was said to al-Shu’bi: Why is a person who is quick to get angry also quick to calm down, and the one who is slow to get angry is slow to clam down. He said: Because anger is like fire; that which is easier to start is easier to extinguish. 

Al-Adaab al-Shar’iyyah, 1/183 

If something happens to a Muslim that makes him angry, he should remember the advice of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him): “Do not get angry,” as if the hadeeth applies directly to him. And he should remember that Allaah has commanded him to treat his parents well and has forbidden him to offend them, as if he has heard that from Him directly. 

There are means of soothing anger if it arises, which will enable the one who does them to cure himself of anger and its effects. Al-Maawirdi mentioned a good number of them when he said: 

“Remember that there are means of soothing anger if it arises, which a person may use to help himself become patient. These include: 

1 – Remembering Allaah, which should make him fear Him; this fear will motivate him to obey Him, so he will resume his good manners, at which point his anger will fade. 

Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): 

“And remember your Lord when you forget”

[al-Kahf 18:24] 

‘Ikrimah said: i.e., when you get angry. And Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): 

“And if an evil whisper comes to you from Shaytaan (Satan), then seek refuge with Allaah”

[al-A’raaf 7:200] 

i.e., if the Shaytaan makes you angry – then seek refuge with Allaah, for He is the All-Hearer, All-Knower – i.e., He hears the ignorance of the ignorant and He knows the things that take anger away from you. 

One of the wise men said: Whoever remembers the power of Allaah will not use his own power to wrong the slaves of Allaah. ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Muslim ibn Muhaarib said to Haroon al-Rasheed: “O Ameer al-Mu’mineen, I ask You by the One before Whom you are more insignificant than I am before you, and by the One Who has more power to punish you than you have to punish me: why don’t you let me off?” So he left him off, because he had reminded him of the power and might of Allaah. 

2 – He should get out of the situation he is in, so that his anger will dissipate because of his moving away from that situation. 

It was narrated that Abu Dharr said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said to us: “If one of you gets angry when he is standing, let him sit down, and if that does not take away his anger, then let him lie down.” Narrated by Abu Dawood, 4782; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Abi Dawood. 

3 – He should remember what anger leads to of regret and the need to apologize. 

One of the literary figures said: Beware of the pride of anger, for it leads to the humiliation of apology. 

4 – He should remember the reward for forgiving others and of being tolerant, so he should force himself to overcome his anger, seeking that reward and so as to avoid deserving blame and punishment. Raja’ ibn Haywah said to ‘Abd al-Malik ibn Marwaan, when he had the power to capture some of his enemies: “Allaah has given you the victory that you wanted, so give Allaah what He wants of forgiveness.” A man said something that ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al-‘Azeez disliked to hear, so ‘Umar said: “You wanted the Shaytaan to provoke me because of my position so that I would be harsh with you and in return you would harm me tomorrow (i.e., on the Day of Resurrection). Go away, may Allaah have mercy on you.” 

5 – He should remind himself of the way that people like and respect him, and he should not risk losing that because of his anger, so that people change their minds about him. He should know that by forgiving people he will only increase the respect with which they view him.

As the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Allaah will not increase a person who forgives others except in honour.” Narrated by Muslim, 2588.  

And one of the poets said:

“It is not a trait of nobility to be swift in seeking revenge.

And generosity does not lead to a loss of blessings.” 

Adab al-Dunya wa’l-Deen, p. 258-260. 

For more details on how to deal with anger, see the answer to question no. 658

And Allaah is the Source of strength.

Islam Q&A

 

 

 

 

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13 Responses to How does Islam teach us to deal with anger and irritability?

  1. nizam says:

    Assalaamu alaikum.wr.wb.
    I have always had a problem with anger.I guess we were not taught in early life the lessons on anger and getting angry and how to deal with it. In retrospect if one had sat me down like you say and explained to me early in life about anger and getting angry, maybe I would have been a better person now.With two teenagers this is the most challenging point in my life.I tend to get along better with my son than my daughter. I find myself apologizing regularly. I never really heard the word sorry come out of my father’s mouth.He is deceased now may Allah Almighty have mercy on him and grant him a place in Jannatul firdaus.But by the help of Allah Azzawajal, I think I have come a long way in dealing with my anger.I love our children too much to hurt them like this and tarnish their lives.
    Anyhow thank you for sharing this advise and I pray Allah Azzawajal help us to remember Him when anger is approaching.

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  5. Fathima says:

    Asalaamu Alaikum,

    I was having a bad afternoon and I got into an argument with a family member. I decided to turn to Allah (SWT) for guidance and googled information on Anger and Islam, and came across your blog. Masha’Allah it made me feel a lot better.
    I find that its easier to get angry with family members than others. Like the brother above mentioned, I wasn’t taught on how to deal with anger, although I am naturally not a very angry person, nonetheless at times I do loose my patience, like I did today.

    Jazak’Allah Khair for the post

  6. w.a.s, often we find it easier to become angry with people we are closer to because we assume that they will put up with us… but we should treat those we love better actually… its so hard to call back words we have spoken in anger and I am the first to be called to account on that one, just ask my kids!! :) But at least going back and apologizing and explaining in a calm manner why you got upset and try to explain your feelings without blaming the other person, and just say, i feel, I think, I understood etc, instead of you made me you said, you did,,, will help alot to diffuse the situation. Hope it will help..

    fi amanillah

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  9. Borgeson says:

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  10. Mook says:

    Thank you, was a good article. I wish you success, good day

  11. Gillikin says:

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  12. Sutliff says:

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  13. Mizanur Rahman says:

    I am educated. I shall try not to get angry and I shall have patience.Thank you indeed.
    regards,

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